10/09/2002 11:00PM

Newsbreak a story in progress

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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Few associate midsummer in Virginia with the unveiling of promising 2-year-old talent. Yet that is when and where Newsbreak began his racing career, eking out a neck victory July 15 in a one-mile turf race at Colonial Downs. And while the victory was narrow, Newsbreak's win in a Sept. 13 turf allowance race at Belmont was emphatic. Closing from last with a rush, Newsbreak won going away by almost two lengths.

Not even Graham Motion, who trains Newsbreak for Courtlandt Farm, was prepared for that sort of effort. "I agree, that was an excellent race," Motion said. "But it's hard to tell with him, because he really doesn't show a lot in the morning."

Because Newsbreak doesn't tip his hand during training, Motion still isn't sure exactly what he has on his hands. Thus, he has avoided the cream of the early 2-year-old turf crop in New York and Kentucky and sent Newsbreak to Arlington for Saturday's $75,000 Manila Stakes, a race at one mile on grass.

"I just want to choose his spots carefully right now," said Motion.

Ten others were entered in the Manila, including Zydeco Affair, winner in his last start of the $100,000 El Joven, a two-turn turf race at Retama Park. Other contenders are Come Back Now, a two-time grass winner at Ellis Park; Del Diablo, who makes his turf debut for trainer Bernie Flint; the locals Larry B and Mr Mississippi, both good-looking maiden winners; and Our Only Option, trained by Lynn Whiting, who won this race last year with Rylstone.

Zydeco Dancer arrived Wednesday from Texas, where he is based with trainer Tony Richey. Richey and owner David Beard hoped early-season short sprints would suit Zydeco Dancer, but the colt blossomed later when given a chance at two turns. "He flashed a lot of speed in the morning, so we kind of let him run along in those sprints, but he wanted to go two turns," Richey said.

Zydeco Dancer quickly won his maiden in his first try in a grass route, and he followed up a few weeks later with a game win in the El Joven, overcoming wide draws in both wins. "He was in a lot of trouble down there," said Richey. "We've got to give him a shot to step up to this level and see what we have."

* Arlington-Washington Futurity winner Most Feared had a major work for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Thursday, breezing six furlongs in 1:14.20, the fastest of eight works at the distance by more than two seconds.

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